Roughly a thousand volunteers turn out for Clark Fork cleanup


MISSOULA, Mont. - Volunteers estimate they pulled roughly five tons of trash from the Clark Fork River in Missoula on Saturday. It was all part of the Clark Fork Coalition's annual river cleanup event

"We came close and thought it might be a busted up chair and it was a beautiful piece as you can see," said Clark Fork Coalition Board President Sarah Bates.

It was a boat full of Clark Fork Coalition Board Members that found the perfectly fine wooden chair along the river Saturday. It's a nice chair for someone to just toss in the river, but it wasn't even the strangest item found. There were parking meters, semi tires, and lots and lots of garbage.

"The river really is the heart of our community, and a clean river is healthy for people. It's healthy for the birds, for the fish and for the recreation we all enjoy," said Bates.

The nonprofit recruited around a thousand volunteers to help with the effort Saturday morning. By around noon, more than 250 glass bottles came in, along with five tires and thousands of plastic bags.

What could be recycled was recycled.

Busloads of volunteers took turns walking along the river, working to clean things up before summer recreating season really kicks in. NBC Montana caught up with volunteer Jeff Crouch as he took a food break.

"It's really good to eat a little bit. We were getting hungry out there," said Crouch.

He and his wife floated down the river during their cleanup efforts.

"Probably the most interesting thing was a waffle iron that looked like it was from about 1940, and a semi tire and a bunch of fishing netting, random stuff," said Crouch.

By the events end, volunteer's like Crouch brought in an estimated 5 tons of garbage. It's a day's work, and good news for the Clark Fork Coalition.

As for the chair: A woodworker is planning on attaching a special label to it, and it'll be placed in the Clark Fork Coalition's office.

"It's going to be a nice piece of honor for this great day on the river," said Bates.

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